A waitress is filing an unfair dismissal complaint against an Irish bar in Manhattan alleging she was fired over not paying for a meal for three men who “dined and dashed” without paying.
Suzanne Parratt, 31, from Queens says she was fired after refusing to pay for the $96 meal Tuesday night November 19.
"What I was faced with was illegal and unfair," she told Gothamist.
She had worked at the Pig and Whistle since August 1st. That Tuesday she served three men who arrived in at 8 pm and stayed an hour. They then left without paying when she was otherwise engaged.
(We have been asked to point by Ken McCoy owner of several Pig and Whistle pub on Manhattan's East Side that the pub concerned does not belong to his chain)
"As soon as I realized, I went into full blown shock and then a state of panic knowing that I'd be held responsible for their $96 tab," she said.
Her manager demanded she pay the bill out of her own wages or get her two co-workers to share. "I believe he said this because it was relayed to him that I was not intending to pay the tab, and he wanted to guilt me into it or he'd make my coworkers pay for it," she told us. "I really hope he didn't do that to them. We all work very hard in very stressful, poorly managed conditions for not a lot of money right now. $96 is more than we each made in that shift ."
She says she was a model employee until that time.
"I was on time, I did all of my work, I covered for co-workers, I assisted every way I could. I stayed past my shift endings to help accommodate guest volume if it were particularly busy. I never once called out, I never had one guest complaint. I would help every table if needed, regardless of it were mine, because we split tips there."
However, she claims there was a "culture of fear" on the issue of dining-and-dashing:
“It was repeatedly drilled into our minds that if a customer were to ever dash on a check, that the server is responsible for the tab. This is not uncommon in the restaurant industry, but in my many years of experience I've never actually seen it practiced. We were also told that if a credit card slip was unsigned, we would be held responsible for that as well, though I never was held responsible for that.
The Division of Labor Standards seems to back her unfair dismissal case. They told her:
“Your employer cannot make any deductions or require payment out of pocket for any losses or damages. Therefore, your employer cannot require you pay the tab for customers who walk out. If they want the money, they will have to sue you in civil court...Although your employer is allowed to terminate any employee for any reason, except any reason that constitutes discrimination, your employer also cannot terminate you because you complained about a violation of the Labor Law. Therefore, since you refused to pay for the tab, which is a violation of Labor Law, and was terminated for it, you can file a complaint of retaliation with the Division of Labor Standards.
Parratt says she will file an unfair dismissal case "I am very tired of hard working people being exploited through emotional manipulation by restauranteurs. There are many other people who have the same anxieties over their work as I went through, who are being mistreated or taken advantage of, but can not say a word because they feel they have no recourse."
The bar refused to comment.